How The Seven Years' War Influenced The American Revolution (With Footnotes)

2401 words - 10 pages

Vortex of the American Revolution: The Seven Years' WarThe Seven Years' War (1756-1763) gave Britain a decisive win over the French in North America. However, the triumph also initiated some unexpected disasters for Britain. It enlarged Britain's American domains to a size, which would have been difficult for any European monopoly to control, even under the best of circumstances. The declaration by Queen Elizabeth on July 6, 1976, "We lost the American colonies because we lacked the statesmanship to know the time and manner of yielding what is impossible to keep," is a tacit admission of the fact that the empire had grown unwieldy after the Seven Years' War and the failure of the ...view middle of the document...

" The chief causes of colonial discontent included the Privy Council's disallowance in 1759 for a Virginia Act forbidding the governor to sign any acts amending or repealing acts unless approved by the Privy Council, issuance of general writs of assistance in 1761, empowering English officials to break into stores and homes to search for smuggled goods, forbidding of the royal colonies to issue judicial or other commissions by an order of Privy Council in 1761. This act hit New Jersey and New York the hardest as their judges had already earned tenure, the rigid enforcement, in 1763, of the Sugar act, imposed a prohibitive duty on imports of foreign molasses, the backbone of the flourishing northern rum industry. Cumulative to this, the Stamp Act of 1765 cemented a front of opposition to Britain's oppressive actions.According to historians Herbert Levi Osgood and George Louis Beer, independence was not the consequence of American tyranny; therefore, the Seven Years' War could not have been a leading cause of the revolution. However, George Bancroft called the Seven Years' War "the first phase of the American Revolution." According to Fred Anderson, "without the Seven Years' War, it is likely that American independence would have been long delayed, or, possibly not achieved at all."The imposition of the mercantile system exacted heavy sacrifice from the American colonists during the seventeenth century. The lax enforcement of the Acts of Trade left the door open for highly profitable smuggling until the Seven Years' War. At the end of the Seven Years' War, with the onset of an economic depression, many colonists were in heavy debt. Thought tardy in realizing the true effects of mercantilism, the shoe started to pinch-when the creditors from the mainland started to squeeze the colonists for money owed. As Jefferson put it, "The Virginia planters became a species of property annexed to certain mercantile houses in London." The stance adopted by the colonial legislatures during the Seven Years' War showed that the requisition system could not be depended on upon to furnish a steady stream of revenue to the treasury; the lawlessness of the colonial merchants revealed the need for reforming the machinery of administering the trade laws, as the British treasury was £137 million in debt. Even large businesses began to fail and the mercantile community was shocked. John Hancock wrote, "…times are very bad… the times will be worse here, in short such is the situation of things here that we do not who is and who [is] not safe." The publication of orders to enforce the Molasses Act, "earned a greater alarm than the taking of Fort William Henry did in 1757," declared Governor Bernard of Massachusetts. In April 1763, merchants in Boston organized to watch these trade affairs.. New York and Pennsylvania merchants followed suit and urged their assemblies to solicit Parliament to discontinue the Molasses Act. Gov. Colden of New York said,...

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